The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree 

“You’ve got a winner in town. We’re looking forward to winning. So today we start . . . If there are any real good football players here, they’re going to want to play for Buddy Ryan.”

Early in 1994, the Arizona Cardinals hired Buddy Ryan to help revive a dead franchise that hadn’t done anything in years. In his first season he coached the Cardinals to an 8-8 record, a 1 game improvement over their 7-9 record in 1993. The next year, the Cardinals won 4 games and Ryan was fired at the end of the season. 

Buddy Ryan won a Super Bowl as the defensive coordinator for the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears which landed him a head coaching gig with the Philadelphis Eagles. After being hired in 1986, Ryan had the Eagles in the playoffs by 1988, their first trip in 6 seasons. Despite having some great defense’s and a terrific quarterback in Randall Cunningham, they never won a playoff game and he was fired in 1990. 

As we all know, Buddy had two twin boys, Rex and Rob. And the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. At all.

Rex Ryan was fired in New York after 6 seasons, 2 playoff trips, 2 AFC championship game appearances and a 46-50 record. I was an absolute Rex Ryan apologist. I knew he wasn’t a perfect coach, but I felt he was a really good coach. Despite the fact he only made the playoffs his first 2 seasons, I still thought the world of him. 2013 was the season I gained a lot of respect for him because it was his best coaching job. Rookie quarterback with no weapons and a defense that struggled greatly, yet they finished 8-8 and I really thought everything would be okay. In 2014 everything went to shit. And it was very easy to point to the front office struggles as a big reason why Rex struggled. There was a serious lack of talent on that team. By the end if the season it became increasingly clear that Rex just had to go so that way both teams could get a fresh start.

Rex is immediately hired by the Buffalo Bills and what does he do? Open his mouth:

“I know it’s been 15 years since the Bills have been to the playoffs,” he said. “Get ready. We’re going. We are going.”
Rex actually gave a press conference full of quotes and it was easy to by into everything he was saying. Knowing the type of defensive mastermind Rex is and seeing the level of talent on that defensive, Rex, Bills fans and football fans alike were salivating just think about the potential of the what could be. 

We knew about the struggles Ryan’s offense had with the Jets and for the most part, they were valid. He didn’t have great talent on the offensive side of the ball nor did he have a competent offensive coordinator. But in Buffalo, it was the exact opposite. From the LeSean McCoy trade to signing Charles Clay away from the Dolphins to bringing in Richie Incognito to making a move for Tyrod Taylor, Rex was given an embarrassment of riches to work with on the offensive side of the ball. 

And with a few weeks left in the season, the Bills have the 13th ranked offense led behind the #1 rushing attack in the league. Tyrod has been everything the Bills wanted and some, throwing 20 touchdowns to 5 interceptions and he’s been a playmaker. But see, the problem for once isn’t the offense. 

The biggest issues the Bills have had have been on defense. This is a defense that was downright scary in 2014, led by a vicious defensive line with superstar talent like Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus. This was an attacking defense that got after the QB using the 4-3 scheme. Well, Rex Ryan is known for his 3-4 scheme but you would assume Rex would adapt to meet his new personnel. Well not exactly….

One of the most vocal critics of Ryan has been one of his own players, Mario Williams. In reference to Ryan’s “Build a bully” comment he made when he was hired, Williams had this to say Sunday following their 35-25 loss to the Redskins: 

“It’s crazy,” Williams said. “Once again, you saw the game and you’re trying to switch personnel as they’re coming out of the huddle. I don’t know, man. I don’t know who in the world is saying what personnel they’re in or how it’s that confusing but apparently it is because game in and game out. … My mind-set is if you’re an attack defense, if you’re a bully on the field you don’t let anything else dictate what you do. We’re going to put who we put out there and then we’re going to be able to execute and make plays with the guys out there. I don’t need to wait on you to make a decision.

He’s not wrong. And sadly Williams is unlikely to return anyway because of his high cap number but comments like these just make the decision easier. But when you have a players coach like you have in Rex, anytime there is dissension in the ranks, you can always count on someone to stick up for their coach. Offensive lineman Eric Wood had this to say about Rex’s scheme

“[But] guys have made a name for themselves playing defensive line for Rex Ryan. Muhammad Wilkerson is going to be one of the top paid guys int he league this year and he made a name for himself playing for Rex and doing his scheme. I don’t think schemes thwart numbers or take guys and put them in bad positions.”   

But I think Eric Wood failed to realize that Rex drafted Wilkerson to be a 3-4 end in his scheme. He inherited Williams, who has long since been a guy that gets after the quarterback. Williams was a first team All-Pro in 2014 with 14.5 sacks and for his career he has 95. So what sense does it make to drop him into coverage?

Also following Sunday’s loss, Sammy Watkins had some really strong comments about the state of the team himself: 

“We need to forget about anybody’s feelings,” Watkins said. “We need to call people out. If I’m doing something wrong, call me out. If the line is doing something wrong or messing up, call them out. If the defense is doing something wrong, the defensive line, the secondary, call it out. Because at the end of the day, we’re doing it to win, not to get on somebody and make them feel bad. We’re grown men. This is our job. We get paid millions and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Forget the money. You’ve got to go out there each week and play for the guy next to you”

 

But this is the environment that Rex created. Remember the week of the a Eagles game? He allowed that game to be all about Shady McCoy vs Chip Kelly rather than Buffalo trying to save their season. 

Rex Ryan took something that could’ve Bren potentially great and killed it. 

I had to tweet it twice because I’m still in shock. National media has all this shit to say about Chip Kelly and what he did to the Eagles but not enough to say to Rex for doing the exact same thing but worse. For all this talk about Chip Kelly making players fit his scheme rather than adapting his scheme to fit the players, what is Rex doing that’s any different? Hell both teams have identical records. All NFL coaches have egos. They all want to be legends, they all want to be winners and most importantly they all want to be able to say they did things their way. Arrogance and pride can be a bitch and when it comes to NFL coaches, that’s a bitch every one knows.

We’ve heard talk about a growing rift between Ryan and GM Doug Whaley mainly behind the usage of Sammy Watkins and whether or not Greg Roman is right for this team. Of course Rex denies any such rift, but once a claim is thrown out there, it’s out there. 

Outside of the EJ Manuel draft decision, Whakey has done a lot of good for this franchise. He has brought in a ton of talent only for Rex Ryan to ruin it. The Bills still haven’t made the playoffs since I was in kindergarten and this drought will continue on for another season. Will Rex be the coach next year? Maybe. I think he should be fired. He’s nothing more than a fiery defensive coordinator. A man that can sell you dreams, but his arrogance won’t allow that dream to come true.

Just keep in mind that the apple never falls far from the tree…..

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